SIUE’s Motion Capture Analysis Lab Boosts Regional Research Collaborations

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is now home to the first publicly-accessible comprehensive motion capture and analysis system (MOCAL) to serve Southwestern Illinois and the Eastern Missouri area. The state-of-the-art laboratory, located in the SIUE School of Engineering Building, is increasing research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as collaborations with educational institutions, industry experts, private companies and more.

SIUE graduate and undergraduate students prepare a subject for data collection in the Motion Capture and Analysis Lab.

“Our lab is serving as a core research and educational platform for complex body movement analysis in medicine, sports and occupational safety."

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is now home to the first publicly-accessible comprehensive motion capture and analysis system (MOCAL) to serve Southwestern Illinois and the Eastern Missouri area.

The state-of-the-art laboratory, located in the SIUE School of Engineering Building, is increasing research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as collaborations with educational institutions, industry experts, private companies and more.

“Our lab is serving as a core research and educational platform for complex body movement analysis in medicine, sports and occupational safety,” said Sinan Onal, PhD, assistant professor in the SIUE School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. He is principal investigator of a $185,358 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program that supported the acquisition of the MOCAL.

“Motion capture and analysis systems have found applications in the military, healthcare, sports, visual arts, video gaming, filmmaking, and robotic industries,” Onal explained. “The research possibilities are endless. In SIUE’s lab, we plan to focus on projects related to healthcare which improve people’s quality of life.”

SIUE’s MOCAL uses an optical system. Reflective markers or light-emitting devices are attached to the human body and along with images captured by cameras, enable the computation of three-dimensional locations. It operates in a large area to capture detailed data that can be combined with electromyography and force plate data to determine the muscle activities and kinetics of a movement, respectively.

Currently, four SIUE graduate students and three undergraduate students are conducting research in the lab. Their research projects cover such topics as:

  • Gait Alterations in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Effects of Obesity on Human Balance and Gait/Kinematic Changes
  • A Customized Decision Support Model to help Volleyball Players Improve their Spike Jump
  • Pattern Recognition as a Running Gait Diagnostic Tool
  • Motion Capture and Analysis to Reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace

“I feel incredibly lucky to be able to work in such a state-of-the-art lab,” said Mitchell Leefers, of Jacksonville, a senior pursuing a bachelor’s in integrative studies with focus areas in industrial engineering and mathematics. “The MOCAL gives me a chance to apply theories and techniques I learned in the classroom to solve complex, real-world problems.”

“Through integrated human motion capture technology, the MOCAL allows me to gather complete and objective information that I can use in my research to reach new findings in fields such as ergonomics and product development,” said master’s candidate Shaida Kargarnovin, of Iran. “I can use real-time experiments to further my knowledge in other focus areas such as biomechanics. Experience in this growing technology will set me up for better opportunities in my professional career.”

“Our work in this lab gives us a chance to do something that can impact people’s lives and make a tangible difference on society,” added master’s candidate Somaiya Islam Khan, of Bangladesh.

Onal is integrating the technologically advanced system into his undergraduate course on Methods Design and Work Measurements to expose students to various motion analysis techniques and applications in workplaces.

“Traditionally, engineering undergraduate programs do not include courses on motion capture and analysis or similar courses, because such topics are considered engineering graduate level work,” Onal said. “But, I’m incorporating it in my undergraduate course, so students can gain practical experience on these innovative instruments and gain a better understanding of interdisciplinary research through firsthand experience.”

“Student groups and chapters of professional institutions can also use the lab to organize design and project competitions among undergraduate students to fuel interest in various engineering, exercise physiology, kinesiology and medicine methods and sports tools,” he added. “The MOCAL will also be used to train medical, and dental medicine students, as well as student-athletes.”

Through their work in the MOCAL, Onal and his faculty collaborators expect novel lines of research to emerge and stimulate new grant proposals, jointly authored papers, and educational exchanges among students and faculty from various institutions.

“Using this advantage and established relationships with local industries, SIUE intends to become the academic leader for educating the community about motion capture and analysis technology through hands-on workshops,” Onal concluded.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose to shape a changing world. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 13,000.

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